5 Things You Need To Know Before Planning Club
When we understand the uniqueness of middle schoolers, we can plan a WyldLife club that meets them where they are developmentally and that looks different from its high school counterpart. When we intentionally try to meet their needs, kids are more likely to hear, experience and understand the gospel. So as we plan mixers, games, music and talks, we need to have a clear understanding of the kids we are serving. Here are five key characteristics of middle schoolers:
- They are in different stages even within early adolescence. There are significant developmental differences between sixth graders and eighth graders so they may not enjoy the same activities. A game like volleyball that requires athletic skill may appeal to eighth graders but not to uncoordinated sixth graders still growing into their bodies. WyldLife club should include a mix of activities that interest different age groups.
- They make better participants than spectators. Middle schoolers don’t want to sit and watch – they want to do something. They also have energy to spare, so we need to be careful about how much time they sit. Mixers and games that get all kids involved and moving should be a key part of every WyldLife club. The more kids participate in club, the more likely they will sit and listen when a leader stands up to talk about Jesus.
- They care deeply about how others see them. We bring kids up front at club to “make them heroes” but this can go wrong if middle schoolers are insecure about being in front of others. One option is to ask kids as they arrive if they want to play an up-front game. Give them a few details – you’ll have to eat something or spell something or build something – and let them make the choice. Inviting kids up in teams or with leaders can also help them feel safe.
- They may like to sing… or they may prefer to dance. When led by an enthusiastic song leader, your friends may jump into singing at club. Or your friends may prefer more of a “dance party” feel with a Taylor Swift song played over the speakers. Waiting until high school club for traditional singing is another way to create a different experience in WyldLife.
- They are concrete thinkers beginning to think abstractly. We need to be clear as we talk about Jesus and how much he loves and values our middle school friends. We must connect the dots between Scripture and illustrations while also keeping talks 8-10 minutes in length. We also need to use our words carefully so that we do not manipulate our concrete-thinking friends. At a recent New Staff Training, Chap Clark said this about speaking to middle schoolers, “Don’t coerce them. Let Jesus embrace them.”
*This post was taken directly from a WyldLife Wednesday email, which you can sign up to receive in your own inbox here.